23 Times Science Went Terribly, Terribly Wrong

Cheetah poop, pee, and gluing yourself to a crocodile are just some of the hazards of a #fieldworkfail.

When scientists step out of the safety of a lab, anything can happen. Here are some of the funniest #fieldworkfail stories that researchers are sharing on Twitter.

Outside of a controlled environment, things can get a little messy.


Spilled dirty ethanol & clove oil down front of wetsuit. Had 2 pretend I wasn't getting chemical burns while talking to crew #fieldworkfail

— Dr. Wrasse (@labroides)

It’s easy to be distracted when there’s so much going on around you.


Skillfully applied thousand dollar satellite tag to manta ray. The same manta ray I tagged yesterday #fieldworkfail

— Dr. Alistair Dove (@AlistairDove)

Caught in thunderstorm, ditched metal auger to be safe. When I got back remembered I was wearing GPS backpack with 3m aerial. #fieldworkfail

— Frank Swain (@SciencePunk)

Thinking you are alone having a peaceful pee, only to straighten up and find cars full of tourists looking at you. #fieldworkfail

— Anne Hilborn (@AnneWHilborn)

Leave mess tent not wearing my glasses, wonder where the brown tent came from & why it's moving. Opposite of Bear Aware. #fieldworkfail

— Lisa Buckley (@ShamanSciences)

Occasionally there are some technical difficulties.


I thought I was deleting just 1 picture from the digital camera. Nope. Erased. All. The. Pictures #fieldworkfail

— Jessica Light (@je_light)

For 20% of my camera traps, this was their fate: death by elephant #fieldworkfail

— Aditya Gangadharan (@AdityaGangadh)

And your vehicle sacrifices itself for the sake of science.


On the first day of field work for my MS thesis, my car got stuck on some train tracks and yes, got hit by a train. #FieldWorkFail

— David Steen, Ph.D. (@AlongsideWild)

Sank the boat in the middle of a crocodile survey. Twice. #fieldworkfail

— Agata Staniewicz (@AgataStaniewicz)

When you lose any entire wheel on drive. I mean an entire wheel. #fieldworkfail

— Katherine Orrick (@KaggleRock)

Other times, things might elude you.


A lizard that had eluded capture for weeks jumped on my head and ran down the entire length of me. I still couldn't catch it. #fieldworkfail

— Ambika Kamath (@ambikamath)

Spent 15 min. in W. Texas trying to identify rodent in live trap. Field guide failed to help. It was a Hamster. #fieldworkfail

— Corey Welch (@CoreyWelch_STEM)

While tracking large alligator, remarked to colleagues, "Wow, these tracks look really fresh!" Looked up. "Oh, there it is." #fieldworkfail

— Anthony J. Martin (@Ichnologist)

Just do your best to avoid sticky situations.


Accidentally glued myself to a crocodile while attaching a radio transmitter. #fieldworkfail

— Agata Staniewicz (@AgataStaniewicz)

Not a crocodile but I accidentally glued myself to a very angry crab. #fieldworkfail #Igluedmyself @AgataStaniewicz

— P. Sean McDonald (@pseanmc)

And always do the best with what you’ve got.


Forgot to bring enough seasickness meds to Tarawa. Attempt to purchase locally w/ gestures led to a corset & pregnancy test #fieldworkfail

— Jessica Carilli (@jess_carilli)

Having to 'ride' the model #shark to the sea floor because it's just too buoyant #fieldworkfail

— Lauren Fear (@LaurenFear)

Muskox fell into our excavation block, destroyed our walls and peed everywhere. Muskox fine, stinky digging, however #fieldworkfail

— ArcticArchaeology (@cmdarwent)

When in doubt, laugh and take a picture.


Finding out the ground was not as stable as appeared #Askja #Fieldworkfail camerawoman took pic instead of helping

— Alison Graettinger (@AlisonGraetting)

Or just terrify some children.


Released a goldfinch "Mr flappy" that was immediately captured by a falcon in front of 24 horrified middle school girls #fieldworkfail

— Jeff Stratford (@JeffAStratford)

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